Jim Graves is a Catholic writer and editor living in Newport Beach, California. He previously served as Managing Editor for the Diocese of Orange Bulletin, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Orange, California. His work has appeared in the National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, Cal Catholic Daily and Catholic World Report.
In 2018, the bishop of West Kalimantan in Indonesia invited Deacon Steve Greco of the Diocese of Orange in Southern California to evangelize his diocese of around 600 square miles. The deacon came with members of his apostolate, Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry, who were housed by the Augustinian priests and sisters of the province.
Indonesia has 225 million Muslims, the largest Muslim population in the world. However, the region of West Kalimantan where Deacon Greco was sent is 27% Catholic. Most Catholics are found in rural and jungle areas, and are the “poorest of the poor,” said Deacon Greco.
But while short on material possessions, he continued, the people are rich in faith. He said, “Their response to our message, Masses and healing services was incredibly positive.” (See images from the trip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU18VBVrjz4&feature=youtu.be)
School Slated for Closure
During his visit, Deacon Greco heard the story of Saint Augustine Primary School in Ketapang Regency in West Kalimantan Province. The school is operated by the Augustinian sisters, serves grades 1 to 6 and is located in the rural village of Menyumbung, an isolated area of the country that has a limited electricity supply. It was established 20 years ago to provide a basic level of education for the impoverished children of the region. Although it costs parents $3 per month to send their child to the school, many cannot even afford this fee. It is common to see its poor students walking about without shoes and in worn uniforms.
The school is slated for closure due to lack of funding. But, Deacon Greco said, “That was an unacceptable solution to us.”
The deacon proceeded to “adopt” the school for a year by providing it the funding through his ministry to remain open for a year, and pledged to keep fundraising to keep the school open in perpetuity.
While the school is located in the remote region of a country far away from home, Deacon Greco is excited about his ministry’s new relationship with the school. He said, “We believe Christ is calling us to make a difference in Indonesia and other parts of Asia.”
To make a donation in support of Saint Augustine Primary School visit https://www.spiritfilledhearts.org/donate-index-impact.